If ever proof was needed that the pension systems in Central Europe require urgent reform, then the arrest of a gang of pensioners in Slovakia for attempting to smuggle nuclear materials may be it.
Police in Slovakia announced on December 15 that they have arrested seven members of what is being branded a "pensioners club" for hawking radioactive substances, believed to be sourced from the former Soviet Union. Slovak Police President Jaroslav Spisiak said that the materials had not entered the country, but that the gang members had taken photos of it and sent them out to prospective buyers in the hope of making a cool €500,000.
In a statement, the Slovak police said that the leader of the gang, which has been under surveillance since 2009 according to AP, was a 71-year-old Czech, whilst his Slovak accomplices were aged between 52 to 61. The suspects face up to 10 years in jail if found guilty of illegally trading in radioactive materials. "They have been charged with the criminal acts of illegal production and possession of nuclear material, radioactive materials, highly dangerous chemical substances and biologically aggressive substances and toxins," the statement reads.
Czech state attorney Roman Kafka said, according to CTK: "The group originally wanted to sell the substance on the territory of the Czech Republic. It was later found out that the related negotiations and the handing over of the substance were to take place on the territory of the Slovak Republic."
"It was a group of persons whom we could call a 'pensioners club' because the main organiser is 71 years old and the other members are aged 52 to 61," Spisiak said.
The Slovak police - who last dealt with suspected nuclear smuggling in 2007 when it investigated a suspected $1m deal for enriched uranium - arrested the group members in late November and early December.